tv U.S. Senate Sen. Durbin on Dem Issues with Stimulus CSPAN March 24, 2020 8:53pm-9:17pm EDT
provision. we all know there are many things that so many of us want that are left out but we all know that we must do these things. we are not looking for things that are extraneous to this crisis and i don't believe that they are in this package. we are looking at things that deal directly with this crisis and that's what we proposed here as democrats in the senate whether it be workers first, helping our medical tesystem, providing oversight and transparency in the boards, helping small business, those are all directly related to the crisis, we need them soon we need them desperately in the last few days we've made huge progress in achieving these goals. i hope, i pray, that we can come together very quickly had passed in large numbers a bipartisan bill that will help the american people who so badly badly badly need our help. i yielded the floor. >> what's going on in the
united state senate, if you hear the other side of the aisle there suggested we lost our opportunity and wasting time and nothing is happening. they argue that we've had two vote in a row sunday afternoon and yesterday to decide not to debate on the floor the mccall bill, which was produced and the argument is we can't waste a second, we need to get into serious business of helping people across america in turning our economy around.i just want to say for the record that i left the office not 30 or 40 feet away of the democratic leader senator schumer, i didn't go in to see him because he is an active negotiations at this minute with the treasury secretary steve mnuchin representing the white house. he is in communication with the speaker of the house nancy pelosi about the progress being made and as he said on the floor yesterday, he feels positive and optimistic about the outcome.
i do too.this is an awesome undertaking. consider for the minute the bill we are trying to style and craft literally is larger than one year's federal budget for domestic discretionary spending. and we are doing it in a matter of days. what comes to the federal budget we spent a year together. in this case we are writing a bill of that magnitude we should've agreed to the mcconnell bill brought forward for a vote sunday and got on with it but many of us understood there was a fundamental flaw in the process ilthat senator mcconnell starte. when he suggested we needed this third bill it was after we passed two previous bills, the first one the president asked, if you remember, it seems like ancient history $2 billion to deal with coronavirus. many of us thought that was totally inadequate and we put
our heads together bipartisan basis with the president and raised it to $8 billion. we did it in a timely way and we did it in a bipartisan fashion.probably shock people across america high regard for congress to start with. then quickly thereafter came the need for another bill. we up to the amount from $8 billion-$100 billion in the second bill that passed in the early morning hours of last saturday. twhat happened in the senate? the senate didn't move on the bill until wednesday of last week. we are talking about waiting four days where we could've considered the bill in the senate and didn't move forward with it because we didn't have consent requested or given but it's been done that way before it doesn't have to physically make it across the rotunda.
four days passed and last wednesday senator mcconnell called this bill for vote and it passed, $100 billion, then he announced we would start crafting this third bill, if you'll notice the calendar and the days we are facing here, it hasn't been a week since athat announcement and we are it considering the bill a size admitted to the likes of which we've never seen in a single undertaking. a bill for authorization and appropriation that may range somewhere north of $1.5 trillion. why is it that big? because the problem is that big if not larger. that's why we're trying to do this the right way when senator schumer was told by senator mcconnell we were moving toward the for third bill of his first response was the right one, left as he did with the first two. let's have a bipartisan bicameral approach he suggested bringing together the four corners of the democratic and republican leaders of the house and senate together with the white house to sit down at the table and craft this bill. senator mcconnell refused. he said he will start this as
exclusively republican senate bill we will ask our task forces to write something we will get back to the democrats in the senate later and no mention was made of the involvement of the house. after some 48 hours we were presented itwith the proposal from the republican side. there were parts of it that were bipartisan in the mcconnell bill, i think of the effort that senator cardin of maryland said rubio of florida put into the whole question of dealing with small business and the problems that they are facing with this massive public health crisis. they come up with what i consider a good approach a good approach that literally could help 50 to 60 million small businesses across america that there were others involved in the conversation senator wyden, senator graham and others it was bipartisan start to finish
and i believe it was this close coming up with this bipartisan proposal. however, the other provisions in mcconnell bill were not as bipartisan. they reached the point where senator mcconnell announced that was the end of the story, he was bringing mcconnell bill to the floor without further t negotiations. that came as a surprise because there were elements that the democrats were asking for and insisting on that really were fundamental. a vote was taken this last sunday afternoon and we decided as a caucus to argue on the democratic side that there were fundamental elements missing in the mcconnell proposal. we wanted to include them so we voted no and moving forward on mcconnell proposal. within a few hours, we involved
the speaker of the house of representatives nancy pelosi. time and again i've noticed over the last several days senator mcconnell and others have come to the floor and complained that speaker pelosi was part of this negotiation process. if you go back to that pamphlet how laws are made can we understand this is not a unicameral legislature, the house and the senate need to pass a measure for it to be sent to the present ...... in . i think she should be part of it. she has been following the progress that's being made with senator schumer, and esther
mnuchin, mr. mcconnell and hopes we can reach a point where we have the bipartisan agreement, and that would speed this up as it should be solely involve the house of representatives in the conversation at the earliest stage of after we finished the issues senator mcconnell wanted to bring too the florida after e complete a bipartisan measure that is one that she may be able to take to the house of representatives for cconsideration and maybe even unanimous consent on the floor so what are the items we are now negotiating, and where do we stand? we made it clear that it's essential we deal with the health care system across america. when the governor of new yorkannounced yesterday he wishes every hospital in new york would increase its capacity by 50% and then went on to say i mean 100%, but 50% so they had
enough bed space for those that were likely to seek help facing this covid-19 virus. we can understand of a great state like new york and even illinois for that matter has to anticipate this dramatic increase in patients, our system could be easily overwhelmed. so the democrats have said from day number one we want to make that the highest priority in the bill. make sure we put money in to respond to the crisis. i will tell you progress has been made since the negotiation between senator schumer and treasury secretary mnuchin. we've made progress and i hope that if we can hold it we will have a dramatic increase in the amount of money that was originally in the bill for this purpose when it comes to hospitals. i also want to say a word about the unemployment insurance. this is a proposal thatat comes from the democratic side that has been embraced by many as
well and the notion behind it is those workers who cannot go to work because there is no work to be done or they were forever lost their jobs they would have access to the highest levels of unemployment compensation in the nation's history. we think that is a significant change and significant restructuring of unemployment insurance to reflect the current crisis we face. i don't run away from this issue. i've heard many republican critics but when it comes to unemployment insurance, we are in fact restructuring it. the payments that were made in my state of illinois and other states were just not sufficient for those that maintain a family and payir their bills during tis of economic crisis and so we have started moving towards an amount for individual workers closer to what they are paid at work andon we believe that this should be done over a long period of time to say three months is enough, but maybe a rosy scenario that we hope will
occur but it may not. is thatry restructuring, i think it is. is it necessary, certainly it is and it's been agreed to in a bipartisan basis but that is one of the things we don't believe that mcconnell bill originally proposed to us on sunday really addressed a and may complete wa. to make certain that we measure every proposal for a recovery against the workers and working families of america, not what it does in the boardroom, but what it does in the family room of individual families who still get those bills and still face the pressures of being out of work and wondering if there is enough to get by. we know the majority of americans do not have savings of $400 or more. many of them live week to week
not paycheck to paycheck, and we want to make certain that theyd. have a piece of mind. we have measured every proposal for economic recovery against working families in america and against the individual workers and the challenges that we face. we want to make certain when we give money to the corporations it doesn't change the status of the workers that they've bargained for over the years. whatever is going into the corporation respects the rights of workers under the collective bargaining agreements. the.
if it is a bipartisan bill and i acknowledged in part it was there was a provision that was fought bipartisan when it came to loaning money to corporations they could waive the disclosure of the loan for up to six us. to the individualan corporations there should be transparency and accountability. who is receiving the money and under what conditions and what is going to happen with the money being sent spend, so we have insisted as we sit down and negotiate hereen for this accountability and transparency when it comes to these massive amounts, billions of dollars that could be transferred by the
decision of one person in the administration. i don't think that isab too much nt ask. we should be held accountable as members of the senate and house of representatives for the money that is appropriated the administration should be held to the same standard and we also believe that when it comes to fosic standards that we have been burdened once and don't want to be burdened a second time and for those of us that voted for the past legislation to give money to corporations we want to make certain that that is for the good of the economy and the workers. sadly in the past we have seen under the tax bills and other provisions that were supposed to benefit the economy ended up being a windfall for executives and corporations in terms of stock buybacks and dividends. yes, we are holding a standard that buybacks shouldn't be part of the future for any corporate assistance. we should be helping the workers, help the econom economt not line the pockets of those in the highest levels of corporate
governance. i don't think that is a radical idea. most americans agree and it's one of the things we continue to argue for. i see my friend is on the floor. we served in the house of representatives together and then he took a vacation and became governor in the state of delaware and returned to service at the federal level in the senate and he knows as all of us do governors across the united states and mayors and presidents of the county boards for example are making exceptional sacrifices to fight this battle against the virus. they are spending a lot more money on the public health matters than they've ever anticipated and they are seeing more claims in the state level than they have seen in history, and many of them are facing fiscal budgetary problems because of it. it is so obvious we have seen dramatic leadership when it comes to the governors. one of our colleagues in the house, now the republican governor of ohio has made some i
think significant, important and good decisions for his state. some involved more spending by the state of ohio than he ever could have anticipated. the same is true in the state of illinois. i talked with him virtually every single day we text many times during the day and i know she's spending money that he thinks is necessary to save lives in illinois. so the point i'm making we want to make sure that the bill that emerges helps the state and local governments with fiscal problems they face because of this economic and health care crisis. i don't think that is unreasonable. i think it is the right thing to do and i hope that we can't include it but that's why the original proposal didn't go far enough and why we've continued to negotiate up to this minute. i might raise an issue of difference between myself and the senator from tennessee who a few moments ago was on the floor. she suggested we shouldn't involve ourselves in issues that really have nothing to do with covid-19, and she used as an
example the execution of elections. we went into a debate as to whether or not to go forward with the primary and we decided it wasn't easy at all and decided ohio to postpone the primary. the point i'm getting to some of the conduct and the timing relates directly to covid-19 and whether there are enough people that will be able to vote and serve as judges in the polling places. so, i don't know if that is being debated in the other room but they should bring the issue up because we want to make sure that in this democracy, the most fundamental element of the free and democratic election is going to ogre i encourage all of my friends and family to vote byou mail, vote early. we can do it by state and i hope you can find a mechanism to guarantee that the elections do reflect the sentiment of the
american populace. is there related to covid-19, you bet it is. itth is basic. whether it i is in the story lar though i don't think that we should ignore it. finally, what they say a word about the president's press conference by this evening. i watched it and i watch because the news reports leading up to it raised the question as to whether the president was going to change america's strategy when it comes to dealing with this virus. the current strategy of course is social distance to make sure you are isolating yourself asou much as possible and when in the presence of others who don't stand too close. those are the fundamentals, and wash your hands over and over again. we hear those recommendations and i think they are sound but now there's a suggestion from the president that we may take a different course. i don't know what he will finally decide that i want to stand withci public-health expes to believe that the best way to
slow the growth of this infection rate in the country is by using some form of social distance and isolation of individuals and families. it's a great personal sacrifice in burdened for many families to go through this i know, but at the end of the day if we can reduce the number of people who suffer or die from this virus, it is worth the sacrifice as far as i am concerned. in times of national crisis presidents are supposed to be credible with clarity and consistency. i hope the president will remember that as he makes his decision on a policy. don't follow somebody talking on cable tv and their recommendations. follow those that do to get their lives to saving the lives of others even though it may not be politically popular to continue.
it is being heard. gthe employment claims make reah historic record-breaking highs. if they don't deal with it effectively, sadly we are going to see the economic situation of the country deteriorate even more in the future. we believe the first two measures passed related to covid-19 were done in a timely and bipartisan way. to overcome the political differences and come together on a bipartisan basis. there've been differences along the way and the bills we were currently considering is one of such magnitude that we've never seen anything like it in the history of congress in terms of
dollar amounts that are being debatedo now. i want to do everything in good faith to have a bipartisan negotiation involving the house, the senate and at the white house and the hopes that we can getnd this done. the original bill was lacking and i'm happy to report and most of these we've w made progress since the early decision to move forward. we don't know where america will r and and 30, 60 or 90 days but whatever is, we need to come together as a nation to put aside political differences and agree on a strategy that serves the best interests and do it here in washington as well
engaging the house of representatives in the earliest stages of the negotiations just makes common sense whatever we agree to have to move over for approval as well. that is the best way to achieve it and for those that see an empty chamber and wonder if work is being done as i mentioned earlier across the hallway senator schumer who may come to the floor to give an update, he's been negotiating around the white house and senator mcconnell to come up with a better bipartisan package to move forward. i'm going to close down. many colleagues are joining me in what we call the remote voting amendment in the senate rules. it is complex because it is the
first of the kind where we are discussing using modern technology to use constitutional responsibilities and obligations and the reason is obvious we shouldn't be gathering on the floor in groups. we've been warned by the center of disease control not to do that and ye get we do it because have very few alternatives so i'm hoping we can work with the parliamentarian and officers of the senateth to come up with something that is bipartisan, makes sense, that protects. we need to do our jobs even in times of national crisis whether it is a public healths, crisis r threat of terrorism, let's work hard on it. both the senate and i hope the house can aggregate to respect the rules and traditions of the senate but give options that make sense in this time. madam president i will yield the floor. >> every day that passes, the number of covid-19 were